KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S (2017 - 2020) Review
- Tarmac-tackling super adventure bike
- Torquey V-twin motor
- Agile, confident handling
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£210|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is the direct replacement for the 1190 Adventure, and comes with everything the R boasts, but skewed firmly towards tarmac riding, rather than being genuinely dual-purpose.
The biggest and most obvious change, beside the lack of orange frame and crash bars, is the use of 19in front and 17in rear cast wheels in place of the larger laced items on the R. They are then complimented by shorter travel suspension to lower the centre of gravity – and seat height (from 890mm on the R to an adjustable 860/875 on the S).
That suspension is WP semi-active front and rear, allowing riders to select the best option for their load and conditions, from Comfort, Street, Sport and Off-road via the control menu – even on the go.
The S gets all the same electronic assistance for the rider, too – including Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), multi-mode and lean-angle sensitive combined ABS. Just like the R, you can monitor all those systems via the all-new 6.5in full-colour TFT dash.
The S model comes on Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres as standard fitment in 120/70 R 19 and 170/60 R 17 tyre sizes.
Once you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you may want to join an owners' community like this one on Facebook.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The semi-active WP suspension has four settings – Comfort, Street, Sport and Off-road – which reacts according to your chosen riding mode, and can be swapped on the fly. The new S is sportier than the old Super Adventure.
The steering is light for such a big bike, which encourages you to really throw it around with relative ease. When the semi-active suspension is working overtime the 1290 remains composed, stable and boosts confidence.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The 1301cc V-Twin is now Euro 4 compatible and KTM have cleaned up the motor with a new exhaust, new cylinder head, including valves and cams, plus changes to the fuelling. Even though the engine is cleaner and quieter than before KTM say the power and torque figures remain the same as the old model, 160bhp and 103.25ftlb of torque. It makes 79.6ftlb of torque at just 2,500rpm!
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
KTM’s reliablity and quality is improving and the 160bhp is near proven in other models such as the 1290 GT and Super Duke.
We've got 7 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S owners' reviews on the site, with an overall score of 4.4 stars out of 5. Reliability has been a problem for some.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The base price of £14,299 means it's cheaper than the competiton and for that you get a decent level of specification. However, the bike we tested would cost £16,777, which isn't too bad and puts it much closer to the competition.
The KTM 1290 comes with an impressive spec sheet. Four rider modes, cornering ABS and lean senstive traction control, all controlled by the fancy new colour dash. Other neat touches include LED cornering headlight, keyless ingnition, cruise control, illuminated switchgear, self-locking manual screen and even a waterproof phone storage compartment complete with USB input. Heated grips are an optional exta.
|Engine type||Liquid cooled, V-Twin, chain drive, six gear|
|Frame type||Steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||23 litres|
|Front suspension||Semi actice WP 48mm forks|
|Rear suspension||WP single rear shock, semi active|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston radial calipers, cornering ABS|
|Rear brake||267mm disc, twin piston caliper, ABS|
|Front tyre size||120/70x19|
|Rear tyre size||170/60x17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||45 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£210|
|Used price||£8,700 - £12,600|
17 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||160 bhp|
|Max torque||103 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||250 miles|
Model history & versions
2017: Model introduced
Other KTM 1290 Super Adventure reviews on MCN
MCN Long term test reports
MCN Fleet: KTM 1290 Adventure S – Arrival imminent!
To say I’m excited about the impending arrival of my longterm KTM 1290 Adventure S is an understatement. Having got up close and personal with the model at the MCN London show in February, I was seriously impressed with the look feel and the plethora of features it boasts. I’m not an overly big fan …
Owners' reviews for the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S (2017 - 2020)
16 owners have reviewed their KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S (2017 - 2020) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£210|
Annual servicing cost: £150
Excellent performance, comfort, safety and reliability. Good fuel economy the biggest issue is the seat height being only 5ft 8” it’s a tip toe reach,
Great all round bike touring weekend runs or shopping no problems
It’s my second 1299s never had any issues with rust or bodywork looking tired, had a few software updates only one time that was unable to start due to a software glitch was easily rectified by pull main fuse and replacing it.
Services are every 9000 miles small ones around 150 and full around 350
Love the TFT and it’s uses and information, extras recommended Quick shifter, crash bars heated grips as musts , tyres tried Bridgestone A41 but found them slow to turn so have stayed with Pirelli Scorpion 2s
Buying experience: First bike brand new with all extras tourpack grips bars etc 2017 £15200 this bike 2019 ex demo as above £11900 dealer
Annual servicing cost: £250
This machine alters your perspective of dual sport bikes - be prepared to be shocked, this machine is capable of everything & more. Acceleration is mind altering as you’d never expect that kind of performance from this type of bike. Did 1800 miles in 4 days in high tech comfort, previously had a GSA but this is in a different league, go on, just give one a try
Phenomenal machine - Blackbird power in a dual sport !! no one could have imagined this 10 years ago
Buying experience: M&P - I had great service but depends on who you deal with
Annual servicing cost: £100
A simply awesome bike that just does it all while putting a huge grin on your face , happy scratching making sports look silly when surfaces aren’t perfect And just as happy riding back lanes and gravel roads . Engine modes and electronic suspension make fit a perfect combination for any condion or road Forget any pre conceived ideas about big adventure bikes , this breaks the mold
As comfy as a bike can get I think pillion is very happy too The best part of this bike is that it’s at its best almost everywhere , so many settings and options for suspension and engine
The engine is best part . It’s a total peach . Soo much torque , slipper clutch , auto blipper quick shifter , motors don’t get better than this
No problems , but it’s a high tech bike full of the latest electronics . Keyless ignition I personally think is stupid especially on a bike
Relatively easy to self service , and service intervals and costs are longer and cheaper than my Suzuki gsxs1000 50 mpg is easy to achieve
All you need , cruise sat nav , heated grips , , get them all enabled as part of the package , heated seats and hill hold aren’t required IMO
Buying experience: Jd racing saltash Cornwall just great ktm dealer
Annual servicing cost: £100
Simply incredible bike , does everything so well
Ride quality is superb with a setting for everything from sport to off-road . The engine modes really do work on this bike , fueling is very good Suspension setting for every load condition , and comfort to sport in damping .
Ktm 1290 motor is best part of all , it just oozes effortless torque for a really usable road bike . This motor is special , easy to use gently in wet and tricky situations , yet eye watering power delivery for fast road use . Probably the easiest motor I’ve ever used to make fast progress on everyday roads
No problems in 3 years and 8k miles . It’s high tech so Iam impressed so far
Easy to self service , reasonably long intervals
Wants for nothing really brilliant tft screen with everything from cruise controll I score 4out of 5 because I feel keyless ignition on a motorbike is a backward step
Buying experience: Private purchase , but our local ktm dealer jd racing are fantastic
Annual servicing cost: £250
Best features: Engine, handling, electronics package. Worst features: Seat could be more comfortable. Lots of heat from the rear cylinder in warm weather.
The clever suspension works in pretty much any conditions and no matter how poor the road surface is. On decent twisty roads it will give any sports bike a run for the money - pretty amazing for a bike you can also happily take on a multi thousand mile tour.
Could pull tree stumps out. Awesome.
No issues. Bike owned from new and now on 12k miles.
Servicing costs aren't too bad. It is a big complex bike after all.
Everything you could possibly want. I'm still finding features after 2 years of ownership.
Buying experience: No problems at all. I thought I got a decent deal, although they have been discounted since then.
Strange things that took me a while wondering about and trying to understand this bike: - The Adv bike with the largest engine displacement in the market is lighter than 90% of 1000cc naked bikes! - 1300cc Vtwin with that high compression, hp and torque .., and not vibrating like a big bore V twin. - Chain drive on a big adv - It's an Adv but not blended form offroad / touring like most in the market, it's more of a Hyper Naked / off-road / "some" touring blend Riding experience: - Power and maneuvers is the first comment form everyone who tested it so far, Powerful response and sharp maneuvers that feels like a good 1000cc street bikes - Popping off the font wheel and pushing the traction control beyond its limits and having the rear wheel spin is very normal, you have to take it very easy on throttle, btw this happens also at higher gears and speeds- At low speeds power delivery is very smooth and not cranky at all (expect on sport mode needs you to be a bit sensitive on throttle)- Idle RPM is high ~1500 needs some time to a adapt then its a not issue- Always asking for a lower gear, you can't pass a speed bump at none adv speed bump speed :) on 2nd gear you must shift down to 1st, - 5th and 6th are not the gears to cruise less than or equals 100Kph, 4th is the 100kph cruising gear in this KTM- Braking performance, KTM was pragmatic enough to handed over the braking system to Brembo- Neutral is not easy to catch. You have to be sensitive or have good gear box mechanical experience :)- Vibration is very minimum till 6 rpm then you start to feel it a bit, but it depends on your perspective, compared with Japanese cruisers, Ducati, off-road bikes it has no vibration, compared to Japanese 4 inline or parallel twin it has a bit vibration feeling- Suspensions for a person like me, semi adaptive electronic suspension feels like a spaceship, - Damp settings Sport, Street, comfort, Off-road do exactly like it's name- Setting Damp, preload, abs, riding mode on the fly is real +- Fuel weight well distributed and at low hight- When you want to get the hell out of the 160hp it burns fuel like street bikes, other than that consumption is good for travel and commuting- Heat: it's like eu cars it heats till 90-100 degrees and keeps like that all the time, 100% not as hot as described on forums especially if you are used to hot weather or 1000+ street bikes. while commuting in sunlight 38 degrees, you feel "some heat" from the seat but I would say a very normal heat, no concentrated heat at you legs and feet at all, so it's a normal big bore heat however in concourse I've experienced all lot more and was having a much bigger complain - Wheelbase is a bit short compared to ADV bikes, its makes it jump higher and easier maneuvers also easy to spin the rear wheel this must be taken in account while cornering- Highway riding: street bike acceleration and braking performance all the way, - Handling response gets harder after 200kph, not convenient after 220, more of a boat traction (probably because height and weight) also it's not the use case for an adv bike - Accelerates faster than the suspension semi adaptive, if you reach 200+ very quickly you'll need to wait couple of seconds till the suspension adapts - also the front wheel always lifts up when accelerating on any speed so you lose a bit of a traction in the front wheel during sudden acceleration, if you're well connected with the bike and have the right experience it's just a muscle memory - don't think 250+ Kph is an option as advertised unless you are in a straight tunnel alone:) over 200 the risk strats and over 220 it's totally out of its comfort zone, not sure but I think it's locked at 23x kph.it maneuvers and corners very sharp but your head is very high, you need to change your body position if you're going extreme.TFT is very nice but as usual KTM fonts are too small, Mobile connectivity is good for caller id and media playing also controlled form the handle bar is nice, puting google maps on the TFT was supposed to be there, ktm navigation app is useless. so the company that handed over the braking to brembo are trying to compete with Google in SW :DHandlebar switches, finally! they light at night :) Also you control everything with 4 bottoms very easily and conveniently once you get used to it. Although the user manual rejects to adjust the windscreen on while riding, it's really very easy to do, but don't tell anyoneother than the Adv and travel capabilities, it's a good bike to commute in case your commute mixes city with highway, also for egyptial silky smooth roadsTop case and a tank bag should be the maximum luggage settings (a duffle on the pylon for long trips) side cases will kill it, you will lose the benefit of having a very fit / slim bike, also weight on the front wheel is already low, side cases + rack will make it lose more traction easily.Negative things that must change / upgrade (at least for me): - Seat is very hard after 45mins, but KTM ergo seat solved the issue for 200$ - Bar height needs to raise to the maximum of the cables (SW motech solved it) - Windscreen is a failure from KTM :) no protection and zero optical correction in case somebody is short enough to see through -Foot pegs at the lowest settings are still high for a 185cm+ person (solved by the 20mm height I got form the ergo seat), however compared to something like super tenere there are still room for dropping it lower.A very good adv for road / trails, R version will nail it in extreme off roadFeels well built, and holding itself togetherDon't get it if: - You have overweight to obese body - if you are planning to have 3 hardcases and a passenger all time - if you are shorter than 170 cm (unless you're an expert rider) - if you didn't ride a fast bike before (sports, sport touring, hyper naked...) you need to be used to such a response before combining it with Height. - if you have soft hands :P and consider the chain maintenance a pain in the ass. - if the 160hp is your only attraction go get a street bike, it's a powerful adv with a powerful street capabilities, so you have to see it a and ADV not streetOther experience - Stock exhaust is already loud and sounds good, improvement should be for different tone or lighter weight but not a louder volume - Tool box and user manual are targeting riders who work with their own hands - Oil change parts are more expensive around 50$ - needs a very special oil 10w-50 but not necessary Motorex - aftermarket parts are much cheaper than japanese bikes - very easy to move around in parking (like a naked bike)
Annual servicing cost: £150
Best = Torquey engine, dash & ride. Enough said!
It's as happy on Twisties as it is on the open road. Yet to introduce it to the dirty side of it's character but I have no doubt it'll perform. Comfortable for several hours in the saddle.
Awesome, just awesome.....
Solid as an orange rock!
Economical for a beast.
The dash & controls are excellent. It sounds even better with the Akra fitted. Benefits from an after market clip on wind deflector on top of the screen.
Buying experience: Brand new purchase on the "let's trade keys" deal so got £1290 worth of accessories.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Soooooo comfy to ride. I commute, tour and play on it and it is comfy for everything. It is very tall though. Be careful. The suspension is the best I have ever experienced. I was sceptical of semi active and cornering ABS etc but I have to say it is a revelation. Just fantastic.
Loads and loads of power but it is the smooth way it is delivered and the faultless fuelling which make this really special. I run it in Sports mode most of the time and even then it is smooth , well behaved and easy to use. I probably don't need to use Sports mode but the induction roar and instant hit of power are addictive.
Had electrical problems, the screen and starter. It seems some moisture got in but Laguna fixed it and KTM got the parts to them quickly. I am happy with the service.
A big heavy adventure bike with 160 bhp. It isn't cheap to run but it is worth every penny. I recommend the Scorpion Trail 2s. Fantastic grip and quite hard wearing. Suit the bike very well.
Everything you could need. I have the heated seat and grips and they work great with the quick selection on the menu. I use KTM My Ride for Navigation. I have heard lots of complaints but once set up mine has been fantastic. It is clear, easy to use and works great.
Buying experience: Got a deal on the bike but the seat, luggage and grips were expensive. Still a great deal for the best bike I have ever owned.
Annual servicing cost: £180
Brilliant Engine, very smooth quickshifter. You do get some heat from the right sided of the bike from the rear cylinder. Dash is fantastic
Great WP suspension
Awesome engine and power delivery
Too early to tell this is a recent purchase
Great deal saved 2400 off the normal price. Was considering GS 1250 (second hand) but got a brand new 1290 with lots of extras for less than the cost of 2nd hand GS
Heated grips and quickshifter should be standad
Buying experience: Bought from Premier bikes near Oxford, made the buying experience very simple, offered deals on the extras as well.
Annual servicing cost: £180
Adventure bike that is still fun to ride
Ride quality is incredible. This suspension package is without doubt the best I have ever used, and I have ridden or owned every adventure bike on the matket.
This is where the bike really shines, the power is smooth , controllable and ample. As the torque builds , if you wish you can lift the front wheel off small bumps at 80 mph plus, obviously where legal to do so. Or you can set the bike in street mode and cruise along barely touching the throttle, with no complaints from engine or transmission. Oh yes nearly forgot, get the quickshifter installed at your first service , though the clutch is light and the gearbox slick the quickshifter (once you learn how to use it , ie don’t shut throttle and don’t touch clutch!! ) is incredible
Nothing has failed, fallen off or broken , though make sure you wash road salt off in the winter.
This bike, though relatively expensive represents great value for money, considering the level of kit supplied, versus certain German competition.
It’s got everything you could imagine and more, the electronic suspension and traction control are literally out of this world, particularly in the wet when you can feel it helping keep you in control, simply amazing, though Ktm should include the “travel pack” with the initial price ( travel pack includes quickshifter, hill hold control and asc)
Buying experience: Kestrel KTM all the way, the team there are brilliant, very helpful and a pleasure to deal with.
Bought bike brand new handling was rubbish turned out the steering head bearing was loose ! Engine hunting when engine hot in traffic, making bike difficult to ride (Dealer couldn’t fix problem) , uncomfortable seat. Sold mine after 4 months 4,000miles and bought a BMW GS almost perfect!
Engine hunting when hot , dealer failed to solve problem
Depreciation was massive !
Uncomfortable seat , gel seat fitted no better . Tall screen fitted standard one too low
Buying experience: Bought new sold 4 months 4,000 miles later . Not a good touring bike , uncomfortable seat, Engine hunting when hot at low speeds making bike a pain to ride in traffic
Version: 1290 Super Adventure R
Annual servicing cost: £500
This bike has awesome handling and the engine is something else but I had a few teething problems.
I use my bike for touring and daily commuting and it does both without an issue. There's plenty of go in the motor for lugging luggage and the chassis handles really well. The brakes feel a little wooden at times.
There's nothing to dislike about the engine, it has awesome power everywhere. It is very smooth and cruises at any speed. I regularly get 55mpg without trying.
The bike has had to have new fork sliders fitted due to failing chrome and I'm waiting to have a new keyless fuel cap fitted as the current one has failed. The fit and finish is light-years ahead of the R1200GS LC Adventure I had previously...... Awful paint quality on the frame and engine on the BMW.
I love the cruise control and the touring electronics package. The quickshifter is light-years ahead of the gear shift assist pro on the BMW I had. I have Apduro panniers fitted to my bike, which are superb and use a BMW-style quick release system. I can also recommend the KTM Power Parts two-piece heated seats, which are a revelation in both comfort and also the heat is a welcome bonus on winter mornings.
Buying experience: I bought my bike used from CMC Motorcycles, who were brilliant. All work on the bike post sale has been carried out by TripleD KTM at Kendal, who are superb and I can't recommend them enough.
A very powerful engine, great gear, but in high speed not stable.
Fun to ride. Great in the twisties.
Power, power, power.
no big issues
Not more expensive then my previous bikes.
Buying experience: Got a pretty good deal.
The bike lives up to all the marketing hype and then some. Readers will observe that I am a huge fan of the KTM, that said if I was riding two up I would probably take the GS, so some objectivity can be taken from narrative. I mostly ride solo and in this guise the KTM does make every ride an adventure, it's the way it does it which is so exhilarating that did it for me. I am sure others will say the same about a Ducati or Triumph. We are all lucky to have so much current choice of quality bikes.
Perfect in every respect faultless. I don't believe the KTM and GS should be compared, luckily enough I have both and they both are brilliant bikes, they just get from A to B in very different styles. I spend 99.9% of my time on tarmac, but the roads in South East England are so so poor it feels like riding 99.9 % over potholes. But the roads don't bother these types of bikes they just tramp on and on and steer so well at what ever pace is set.
Blows everything else away KTM clearly have some very clever chaps at the factory. The rider modes suit every circumstance, rarely use sport mode in the UK. Pointless.
So far so good done 4000 miles mostly in europe in the alps in September. Too early to tell about reliability. I do tend to do as much servicing and preventative maintainace as i can. I also have a very old BMW GS 1100 for winter use and another BM GSA 1200 last of air cooled models. BMW,s do need looking after as well. I do apply plenty of product products to all my bikes and they all get pampered. So I do my bit to give the bikes he best chance to be reliable
Haven't had to pay for a big service yet but as with all these high spec bikes you buy knowing what you are letting yourself in for!
I fully loaded my KTM with just about everything but kitchen sink. Heated seats brilliant no idea why Germans don't offer options in GS they are missing a trick. The heated seat design is also so much more comfortable than the standard seat even with no heat! For me what swung the KTM to me and not GS or Ducati Multi Strada or Triumph, I really wanted to love the triumph but the looks didn't do it for me, was KTM equipment the ipad dash which is so clear and informative,the electronic package cornering headlights which really do work, quick shifter up and down the box is flawless and so much fun every where. It very quickly becomes completely intuitive to use and I have ridden many many bikes.
Buying experience: KTM know I will be a misery if I get any real grief that can't be sorted by normal protocols, but I will also be a pussy cat provided the bike does what it is supposed to do. Laguna Motorcycles did me proud and they do know me well. Had a bumpy start with KTM UK about customer service. Enough said move on, I'll give KTM benefit of the doubt for the moment. I didn't think they really understood modern customer service as well as they should at the beginning of the journey. Many many years ago I was in "the trade " front of house so to speak so I know how the whole customer journey should work...
Lets place for improvement of the seat height compared to the handlebar. Imho that would make it a 5-star tourer.
the brakes are top notch. But the engine, that is from another level.
Smooth at low revs. And beasty once above 4500rpm
Compared to others it is no more expensive than Japanese let alone a German or an English.
Full package for a reasonable price considering other brands.
Buying experience: In my country, the KTM dealership team ARE the nicest of them all. Not snobbish as the dealers of my previous bike *coughs in German*.
Version: 1290 Adv S
Annual servicing cost: £170
what a bike, what an engine, great suspension. Awesome machine . Standard seat aint so comfy. need the ergo seat.
ride quality spot on
awesome engine, puts a real smile on your face
Windscreen not very scratch resistant
costly. 30 quid more than a GS
love the LCD screen, Gear shifter, suspension.
Buying experience: small network V BMW. But happy to travel as bike so much fun